About Us

Origins
Fire River Poets was founded in Taunton, Somerset, in 1988 by a small number of enthusiastic poets led at that time by John Jarrett. The group has averaged 8 to 12 members from Somerset and the surrounding area.

The name comes from the River Tone that runs through Taunton and appears to be a corruption of the word tan, which meant fire in ancient Celtic. As the Tone is hardly a fiery river, this may seem puzzling, but it used to flood every year and often took on a reddish colour from the soil carried from the source.

Our Approach
The purpose of the Group is to offer a forum for active poets interested in improving their work and gaining feedback in a supportive environment. Poets who want to improve their technique and are willing to share their fascination and enjoyment of writing poetry are very welcome. (There are limits on numbers due to the size of our venue.)

Members write in a variety of styles and on a wide range of subjects. All styles are welcome; no viewpoints are excluded. All we ask is that everyone is treated with equal respect and is given the opportunity to explore ideas and technique in their own way to develop an individual voice – we have no ‘manifesto’ or commitment to a particular fashion or movement.

Members give poetry readings (locally and around the country) and the group has published anthologies. Some members have had collections published; some enter competitions and a number have won prizes. None of these activities is compulsory. Some members are content to write for the pleasure of sharing their writing.

Public events: Poetry Readings, Open Mic slots, Open Mic evenings
We hold public Poetry Readings and Open Mic evenings in Taunton throughout the year. Both up-and-coming and established poets are invited to read their work. At Poetry Readings, there’s one featured guest poet; anyone visitor may pre-book one of the five-minute (max) Open Mic slots.

At ‘Open Mic’ evenings, there’s no single guest poet; the evening is devoted to Open Mic slots – anyone wishing to read their own work is invited to book a slot.

We also organise an annual Competition, open to all-comers, and competitions specifically for young people in the Somerset area. Several of our members organise or particpate in projects ranging from… sponsoring international competitions, to organising liaison between poets and artists, and running workshops for budding poets of all ages. Information on these activities frequuently appears on the ‘Welcome & News‘ page of this website.

Members’ meetings
Enrolled members meet once or twice a month, in a member’s home. Members read one of their poems and a discussion follows. The aim is to provide thoughtful, positive criticism. Members can also read a poem by a favourite or established poet for discussion. Every fifth session, one of the members runs a ‘workshop’. We also organise the occasional walk and/or meal together. Members also have access to a private Chat page on this website.

Readings, workshops, commissions
Members of the group are available to give readings or offer poetry workshops at events run by other organisations. Some members have been commissioned to write poems on a particular theme for special occasions, such as weddings and christenings; let us know, and we will do our best to oblige! Our members have also been invited to give talks on aspects of poetry, or, in one case, read a poem on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme.

Contact John Stuart for further details about any of the above.